Shohei Ohtani
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The Angels believe Shohei Ohtani will hit this year


Angels general manager Billy Eppler was on MLB Network Radio today and, not surprisingly, he was asked about the future of Shohei Ohtani. Ohtani, as we all know by now, is nearing the end of an announced three-week rest period in which the Angels are evaluating the status of his ulnar collateral ligament and its responsiveness to PRP injections as an alternative to Tommy John surgery.

Since it is strongly suspected that, if Ohtani does have TJ surgery, he would be subject to a cautious rehabilitation scheduled and would thus not return to the mound until 2020, they can choose to put off that surgery for some time without affecting that timetable. In the meantime, questions remain about Ohtani’s ability to hit.

So: even if he’s not allowed to pitch again this season and even if he needs Tommy John, he’ll likely be a DH at some point. If he has Tommy John it remains to be seen if he could hit at any point in 2019 — my guess would be no, but you never know — but they’d at least be able to get something out of their two-way star.

Of course, events may render all of this far less important than we first thought it would a few weeks back. Anaheim has played poorly of late and the Astros have surged, leaving the once-contending Angels in fourth place in the division, 11.5 games out. As such, the decisions about Ohtani, however consequential for him, seem far less important for the club’s 2018 playoff prospects than they were a short time ago.

Attempting to complete cycle, Robinson Chirinos thrown out to end game

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With his Astros trailing the Tigers 2-1, catcher Robinson Chirinos began his at-bat in the bottom of the ninth a triple shy of the cycle. He doubled in the second inning, singled in the fourth, and hit a solo homer in the seventh. Yordan Álvarez and Yuli Gurriel both struck out, leaving the Astros’ fate in the hands of Chirinos against Joe Jiménez. After working the count to 2-1, Chirinos slapped an 85 MPH slider to the gap in right-center field. A diving Travis Demeritte could not come up with the ball, but center fielder Harold Castro fired the ball back in to Gordon Beckham, who then made a perfect throw to Dawel Lugo at third base. Chirinos was tagged out for the final out of the game. No triple, no cycle. The Astros lost 2-1.

Chirinos was attempting to become the first Astro to hit for the cycle since Brandon Barnes on July 19, 2013 against the Mariners.

The Astros entered Wednesday’s game as the largest favorite in 15 seasons, according to ESPN’s David Purdum. The Astros were -500 per Caesars Sportsbook. Other sportsbooks had them at -550. So the Tigers’ win was quite the upset.

Justin Verlander went the distance in the loss. The only blemishes on his line were solo homers to Ronny Rodríguez in the fifth and John Hicks in the ninth. They were the only hits he allowed while walking none and striking out 11.